Dali Clock for OSX

Stick a fork in it, it's done: Dali Clock for OSX, binary and source.

Requires MacOS 10.4.0 or newer (if you try to run it on an older version, it will now display a dialog box instead of just crashing.)

I expect those of you in the western hemisphere to all be running this in full-screen "countdown" mode at your parties tonight!

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Happy Leap Second

I am sad to report that MacOS X did not know about the leap second. 3:59:59 was immediately and shamefully followed by 4:00:00 instead of 3:59:60.

Update: But I see that all my Linux boxes just spat out this syslog:
Dec 31 15:59:59 cerebrum kernel: Clock: inserting leap second 23:59:60 UTC
(Nothing logged on OpenBSD.)

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Mark your calendars: celebrate the Leap Second!

Tomorrow, a leap second will be introduced. That means that one minute in the last day of 2005 will be 61 seconds long. This is the first time a leap second has been needed in seven years.

According to Bulletin C of the International Earth Rotation Service:

The sequence of dates of the UTC second markers will be:

2005 Dec 31,  23h 59m 59s
2005 Dec 31,  23h 59m 60s
2006 Jan 01,  00h 00m 00s

The difference between UTC and the International Atomic Time TAI is:

from 1999 Jan 1, 0h UTC, to 2006 Jan 1 0h UTC : UTC-TAI = - 32s
from 2006 Jan 1, 0h UTC, until further notice : UTC-TAI = - 33s

In other words, the year will be longer by one second just before midnight, new year's eve, GMT. That's 4:00 PM PST, 7:00 PM EST.

Please take that second to just go nuts. One second. All to yourself. Use it wisely.

I also recommend reading Paladin of the Lost Hour by Harlan Ellison.

The reason leap seconds are needed is because there are two different definitions of the length of a second: the solar time that you use every day, where the there are 60×60×24 seconds per day (meaning the length of the second varies as the speed of rotation of the earth varies) and the engineering definition, where a second is defined as 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a cesium-133 atom: the atomic clock.

Mostly humans are concerned with time as it relates to the comings and goings of the Sun, but you need to be a little more accurate if you expect that satellite to be where you left it, so you need the length of your unit of measure to not change. That would affect everything else, too, since the official definitions of other units like the volt and the meter are based on the second. (You thought the meter was still defined by the length of that platinum-iridum bar in France, didn't you? Get with it!)

So the time system we use day to day, UTC ("Coordinated Universal Time") is a compromise between solar time (UT1, "Universal Time", formerly GMT, "Greenwich Mean Time") and atomic time (TAI, "International Atomic Time"): in UTC, seconds are of a fixed length, but leap seconds are periodically introduced to prevent "solar" noon and "atomic" noon from drifting away from each other.

But really it's all a lot more complicated than that!

And then of course there was the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar at various dates (mostly) between 1582 and 1752, in which 4-Oct-1582 was immediately followed by 15-Oct-1582, in order to correct for the inaccurate leap-day-insertion algorithm in the Julian system, which over the centuries since its introduction had caused the calendar to detach from the observed equinoxes by ten days.

It can be really hard to know what time it is.

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two kilolosers

As of earlier this month, there are more than 2048 LJ users who have me on their friends lists. That's two kilolosers. It is once again time for you to explain yourselves. Yeah, I'm talking to you:

  1. Who are you and why?
  2. Recommend some music that you think I would enjoy.
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They just don't make RealBunnies like they used to.

Go Bunny Go:

Honorable mention:

And, title this next one "not surprised."

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top ten spam subjects

"AOL said it blocked an average of 1.5 billion spam messages each day."

Top ten spam subject lines:
  1. Donald Trump Wants You - Please Respond
  2. Double Standards New Product - Penis Patch
  3. Body Wrap: Lose 6-20 inches in one hour
  4. Get an Apple iPod Nano, PS3 or Xbox 360 for Free
  5. It's Lisa, I must have sent you to the wrong site
  6. Breaking Stock News** Small Cap Issue Poised to Triple
  7. Thank you for your business. Shipment notification
  8. Your Mortgage Application is Ready
  9. Thank you: Your $199 Rolex Special Included
  10. Online Prescriptions Made Easy
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self-referential surveillance camera graffiti

5th & Howard:

(billboardlibera, flkr_panopticon)
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2005 music wrap-up

In 2005, I bought approximately 124 albums (up 25% from last year!) This was surprising to me, because I was under the impression that I hadn't bought much music this year!

I thought I hadn't bought much new music because I spent four or five months going through my old music and rating every song, and I wasn't actively seeking out new music during that period. But that doesn't seem to have had the throttling effect I expected.

As in previous years, a few of these were released earlier than 2005, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing a little slack. In only approximate order of favoriteness, here is my year-end wrap-up.

50 Foot Wave - "50 Foot Wave", "Golden Ocean", & "Free Music"

    This is Kristin Hersh's new band (of Throwing Muses) and they are awesome. They are much harder and louder, more punk, than Throwing Muses, and really tight. I've always loved Throwing Muses, and it's nice to hear them just rock the fuck out.

    You can download the whole Free Music EP from their web site.

Android Lust - "Stripped & Stitched" & "The Dividing"

    I didn't become aware of Android Lust until they played at DNA this year. It was a good show, and the albums are fantastic. It's primarily electronic music with heavily processed female vocals, but there's a fair amount of variety: unlike most industrial bands who use a lot of vocal processing, she doesn't fall into the trap of using the same damned effect on every song, and the effects she does use are pretty interesting. Most of the songs are loud and fast, but there are a few slower, partly-accoustic tracks. Check out the video for Stained, it's great.

Adult - "Gimme Trouble" & "D.U.M.E."

    I often joke that the genre "electro-clash" means "bands whose entire career consists of covering Warm Leatherette over and over again." There are a lot of crap electro-clash bands out there, but Adult are one of the really good ones. I like all their albums, but these latest two are interestingly different than Anxiety Always and Resuscitation: they're twitchier and more neurotic, and remind me even more of their late-70s new-wave proto-industrial roots.

Nine Inch Nails - "With Teeth"

    I don't have to say anything about this, because either you've already bought it or you never will. It's really good.

Shriekback - "Cormorant"

    I enjoyed their 2003 album Having a Moment more, but this is very good too; it sounds a lot more like Barry Andrews's Stic Basin album from 2003 than previous Shriekback releases have.

Gram Rabbit - "Music To Start a Cult To"

    This is an odd album, and hard to describe, but I really like it. They're a rock band with female vocals, but I can't really pin down a particular style on this album. There's a lot of country influence, but it's spooky country... Some of the songs are a bit like Garbage. Anyway, it's good stuff. Dirty Horse and Cowboy-Up are my favorites.

Jem - "Finally Woken"

    This is about half of a great album. There are a few tracks that I don't like very much, but the ones that are good are great. The good ones are triphop with breathy female vocals, in the vein of the first Sneaker Pimps or first Supreme Beings of Leisure albums, though her voice sounds a bit like Poe. A few of the tracks have some hard-rock guitar on them, which works surprisingly well. The video for They is cute: Barbarella gags never get old.

Frostiva - "Ochnomos"

    Noisy, punk-ish indie-rock girl band. Somewhere in the vicinity of My Bloody Valentine, Lush, or The Cranes if those bands had chosen much more aggro drugs.

DJ? Acucrack - "Mako vs. Geist"

    More mostly-instrumental, fast, noisy electronic music that I don't know how to categorize. I guess it's drum-and-bass, but it's got more of the devil in it than most D&B. It's really great, especially the track Gangland II.

Veruca Salt - "Lords of Sounds and Lesser Things"

    This EP only has five songs on it, but they're really good. This isn't quite as good as Resolver (the last full album) but still worthwhile. I saw them live this year, and they kicked ass.

The Epoxies - "Stop the Future"

    Their first album made last year's list, and here's their second. I think I liked the previous album a little bit more, but this one is also great.

Chicane - "Behind the Sun"

    Nice ambient electronic music; it reminds me a bit of Orbital (and not just because both of them have great songs called Halcyon).

Plink - "The Sleeping Lines"

    Super-mellow electronic music with female vocals. A bit Halou-ish.

Micronaut - "Europa"

    Good instrumental D&B-ish electronic music from Sister Machine Gun.

Yu Miyake et. al. - "Katamari Fortissimo Damashii"

    Ok, I can't believe I'm putting the soundtrack to a video game on the list, but I am. In case you've been living under a rock, Katamari Damacy is the best video game to come out in the last few years. It's really creative, and part of what makes it so wacky is the soundtrack of original music written especially for the game, which is this... really weird loungey jazzy thing, mostly.

Kelli Ali - "Psychic Cat"

    Kelli Ali was the singer for Sneaker Pimps on the Becoming X album (an absolutely incredible album), and then they kicked her out of the band and proceeded to suck. (Well, the second Sneaker Pimps album Splinter doesn't really suck, but it's just not remarkable at all, and it's not even in the same ballpark as Becoming X.)

    Anyway, I picked up Kelli Ali's solo album Tigermouth last year, and it didn't make last year's list because I wasn't too impressed with it overall (except for the last two tracks, Kids and Tigermouth, which are great.) This second album is better. It's still no Becoming X (and doesn't really try to be) but it's still good. The songs are mostly rock with a lot of electronics, not unlike Garbage.

d.A. Sebasstian - "d.A. Sebasstian"

    Most of this album is pretty good, but the reason it makes the list is because of the first two tracks, Monster Monster and (especially) Isabella Rossellini, which are awesome.

Trigger10d - "The Difference is a Boy"

    Another industrial-ish electronic band with female vocals. They're good, but at the moment at least, I find them impossible to describe other than that. If you like that sort of thing, this is that sort of thing.

Stiletta - "Stiletta"

    Good old fashioned girly punk rock. They've played at DNA a couple times.

The Kills - "No Wow"

    Another return from last year's list. This album is faster and more polished than Keep on Your Mean Side. I think I liked the last one a bit more, but this is pretty good too. This album is more "B.R.M.C." than "Boss Hog".

Goldfrapp - "Black Cherry"

    This album only barely made the list: I love the songs Train, Twist, and Strict Machine, and the rest of it is forgettable.

Regina Spektor - "Soviet Kitsch"

    "Genre equals chick with piano".

    The song Us is awesome, and has an equally awesome video (which I can't link to because her web site is a Flash monstrosity, so you'll have to dig). I like the first half of the album enough, but the second half doesn't do much for me.

The Unlovables - "Crush, Boyfriend, Heartbreak"

    I can't decide if I really like this album, or if it offends me. On the one hand, it's very much "pop punk", which tends to irritate me due to that genre's cookier-cutter saturation of pop culture. But on the other hand, it also kind of reminds me of older stuff in this vein like Letters To Cleo and The Breeders. Either way, it's catchy.

Gang of Four - "Return the Gift"

    (This goes at the end of the list because it's not a "real" album...)

    Gang of Four is one of my favorite bands of all time, and I was lucky enough to get to see them play live this year for the first time. Along with that tour, they released this two CD set. The first disc contains studio re-recordings of their early songs. I was highly skeptical: this sounded like a bad idea to me, but it really worked out well! I wouldn't say I like these versions more than the originals, but they're very, very good in their own right. (If you're not familiar with Gang of Four, pick up Entertainment and/or the Brief History of the 20th Century best-of. I insist.)

    The second disc is remixes of Gang of Four songs by a bunch of modern bands, many of whom based their careers on ripping off Gang of Four. Some of them are pretty good (the Ladytron version of Natural's Not In It is especially fine) but some of them are really awful: in particular, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' mix of I Love a Man in Uniform (with Karen O re-doing the choruses in a ridiculous squeaky girly voice) is one of the most shameful abominations I've heard in a long time. (And I've sat through a lot of mash-ups, so that's really saying a lot!)

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Dali Clock again

More Dali Clock: source and this time two binaries, one using the straightforward Aqua way of rendering, and the other using the lower level Quartz way, which I thought would be faster, but as far as I can tell, it's not. In fact, I think it's slower. Certainly it's flakier and a lot more complicated... Check out "#ifdef BE_QUARTZY" in DaliClockView.m for the difference.

All I'm able to understand from Shark is, "yup, spending all your time pushing bits to the screen." Shark seems to suggest that the Quartz way is faster, but Top disagrees. Grumble.

Is there an Aqua way to draw a 1bpp bitmap with a given fg/bg, besides dropping all the way down to CGContextFillRect? Because (as you can see in drawRect) that's a fuckin' pain in the ass when you're dealing with foreground and background colors that can have different amounts of transparency (e.g., making it continue to work when the numbers are a "hole" in the window.)

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